October 10, 2018.

Written by: DVSCP Founding Mother and first Executive Director Bonnie Fowler.

For more than 30 years, the bold, beautiful colors of October have been linked with the deep, rich purple of ribbons that symbolize the observance of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). Every October, in communities throughout the United States, purple DVAM ribbons are worn on lapels, hang from the antennas of police cars and decorate lamp posts.  They’re featured prominently on banners, posters, wrist bands, brochures, placemats and other items that advertise the number of toll-free domestic violence hotlines. DVAM ribbons are worn by staff members and volunteers at domestic violence shelters and counseling centers, first responders, law enforcement and criminal justice officials, healthcare providers, and family members, friends, and allies of those who have been victimized by violence at the hands of those they have loved and trusted.

The purple ribbons of October are intended to draw our attention to the issue of domestic violence that is always with us. They’re intended to make us think the unthinkable. . . what it would actually be like to face an empty place at the table – or an empty child’s highchair – if someone we love had become one of Pennsylvania’s 117 domestic violence homicide victims during 2017. They’re intended to help us deeply and truly acknowledge and celebrate with gratitude the survival of those who have endured the trauma of a violent home or relationship, to support them in their healing, and to demand justice on their behalf.  They’re intended to make a statement, silent but strong. . . that no one deserves to be abused physically, emotionally, or mentally – and that perpetrators must be held accountable.

Since we last observed Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Services of Cumberland & Perry Counties (DVSCP) has provided an array of comprehensive services to 1,221 victims. Staff members and volunteers have responded to 1,282 hotline calls, 15% of them assessed as “High Risk”, based on the Lethality Assessment Protocol. During that same period, DVSCP has provided life-saving shelter to 83 adults and 68 children and offered 3,675 hours of supportive counseling to adult and child victims.

The forthright and persistent awareness of domestic violence as a toxic, destructive element of our community is essential for us to work together to assure that every perpetrator will be held accountable, and that every home in our community will be a place of peace and safety.